We lose them, don’t we, one by one, to time or aspiration?
What seams we sew, must rip to grow: unseemly alteration.
By stealth, their tide begins to ebb, and tangled in the mortal web
they may forget or shift away from our attention – not to say
we love them less – but like the moon, a distant crescent
glanced at briefly, still in our rounded knowledge there completely.
Look in my face now I have lost some valued constant from a distant past
and find the line which holds me like a kite, and fix me to my missing moon tonight.
That by writerly licence, turner of pages, bastion of books,
ambles into the empty library and, notepad open, takes a corner chair.
One hour passes.
Cramp prompts perambulation towards the fiction shelves,
to commune with the Abernalds and Abernathys, the Bagshawes and Baileys,
and while a further hour.
Despite nodding graciously at a couple of oblivious locals,
who rapaciously clutch the bagged imagination of Arthur C. Clarke,
only lunchtime approaches.
Sandwiched between history and psychology, consumed by mystery,
the writer eats secretly, surreptitiously sliding crumpled cling film
between dog-eared tomes.
At four, children bring giggling and in-tow mothers, who skirt
the perimeter of their once-upon-a-times; riding paperback dragons
over the broken back of the day.
As the last book closes, the resident writer gathers all thought
and prepares for another night precariously shelved, wrapped in the cover
of a contemplative manuscript.
Only when yearning takes me by the throat,
crisping my tonsils and closing my butterfly brain
to sensory distractions;
Only when the kernel sticks it’s cankered tongue
against my oesophagus, making it impossible
to utter ludicrous excuses;
and only when churning shakes my salt
into dismayed puddles, eyebrows registering ‘empty’
and my mouth a capital ‘O’;
Only then, will I unchain my curried doppelgänger,
smell mingled sweat and adrenalin, blink in her surprised light.
And with a roar now – go on, roar!
Know how fast we will be away.
At the shiny 8am traffic island,
two freshly employed and eager
young triangular flamingoes arrive
pressed between hardboard, balloons
on their backs announcing deals of the day.
At 5pm, they stuff pale clipped wings
back into hooded jackets and wade
away through pollutant traffic haze,
deflated balloons bobbing, filtering
disappointment through turned down beaks.
Yesterday, I made notched cotton reel
and candle tanks and tied on each
a little waxy sack.
In awe of their extreme anger
I knew from the first, I’d use the wasps,
that’s why I hid them in a drawer
with pens, spells and assorted rubber bands.
Tonight I let them out.
On charge, without goodbyes, the yellowjackets boarded, driving past my face,
the last August light.
Flies and bears would
never do. Badgers are all used up…
Yes, it is high time for those
wood chewing, stripy jacks with
their dripping oviposters
taking away our anxiety, etched yellow, in their little waxy sacks.
Ten fingers strive to exercise a mundane task,
enslaved by hands, their jealous masters, clasping fast
till aching knuckles buckle to the bracelet of the day.
You’d guess they’d ask (above the crack of whip) how so
that they who long to dance, are pinioned tight and must
suspend their joy for subsistence, impinged by stress.
But never did these fingers speak; suffice to know
how noble words and careful deeds and soulful breath
held checked, cut in to scintillate with dazzling display.
D ad told his aviation stories
E very time we met. It
M eant I knew them – sort of. His pride and joy -
E ach became grounded, one by one,
N o longer airworthy…
T il, getting my bearings, I turned a key
I n my voice and imagination,
A nd Flight Lieutenant Dean and I, we learned to fly together.
Toes, waist, chest, chin, then swallowed by the sea,
I’m a mermaid, brought up on ear popping sandstone rock,
sent to salsa through a musical element not our own,
where fish may do-si-do through lace of flimsy lungs.
Dive with me heartlong through musical wave ranges,
sparking the excitement of a gazillion castanets.
Let me tantalise you with Chalchiuhtlicue’s castanets,
while jealous Eurybia pirouettes by us in the sea.
Now we’ll reach below the surface for deeper ranges,
and I’ll show you how to roll the waves and rock
in ecstatic freedom, with fine, uninhibited lungs,
until you exclaim, and claim the water as your own.
Then you and I can find a soundscape of our own,
a balletic collaboration, moving beyond castanets,
to a place where dolphins commune and human lungs
split into feather gills, fleet and sexy for the sea;
where we will meet our thermal origins, ready to rock,
and pause to play great fossil pipes at unheard ranges.
When we have absorbed those harmonic underwater ranges,
and sea beard grows between teeth not quite our own;
when we have become our ancestors, and belong to the rock;
somewhere above us still will play those spangled castanets,
and as you lay yourself on my shelf beneath the sea,
so the dance of our bodies will return us up with new lungs.
First breath, as we surface, oxygen thrust into salty lungs;
First cry, as we emerge, sound splintering mountain ranges;
First swim, as we splash, amazed, to the music of the sea;
sent to salsa through an element not our own,
accompanied by the clap of Chalchiuhtlicue’s castanets,
we’ll reach a place where water drums roar on sandstone rock.
We’ll help each other up, upon the drums of sandstone rock,
and, beating chests, exalted in our triumph, fill our lungs
with air, sea below us clapping – a gazillion castanets,
we’ll sing of life and rock and roll and mountain ranges,
and know the music of the earth, which we can never own,
but that we clambered up to dance to, from the sea.
From our hold upon this rock, the clapping of castanets
and our own song, belted with the mighty power of human lungs,
rings out across mountain ranges, and to the bottom of the sea.
A middling man dances with a deckchair on the uneven beach; his neck burned ruddy by the kisses of the sun. Striped seat tacking, wood frame click-clacking, he perseveres nevertheless, and folds himself into the seat in time to watch his ex-lover leave for new horizons. As she shimmers her feisty goodbyes, an impish sea breeze rises to pick a tune on the string drawn tight between day and night, and steals the hat from the middling man’s head. The middling man throws up his arms to catch the hat, and the chair tips, toppling him. He stays there a while, curled on the beach, salt tears blotted by the still warm sand.
so difficult to achieve
so easily lost.
In this hall we stand and then the castle is ours,
with its cruck roof a fine shelter in this time;
hear merriment; see us feast well; and smell the
smoke and meat and sweat
from our revelries. Friends join us in song and dance,
faces lit by lamps and burnt orange leaping flames
which wrap around them. Sir Knight, fill my goblet
with goodly red wine,
pull your bench to mine to whisper our intent.
We’ll not leave this place till night, drunk and confused,
breaks the great door, spilling its heady reason -
We’ll not surrender yet!